Improving Windows Performance

Let’s be honest and not overlook the obvious about Windows. Take the recommended minimum memory requirements, and double it. Triple it if you will be running memory intensive programs, because Windows is not a “light” operating system by any stretch of the imagination.

Don’t believe everything you read – especially if it reads: “For best results let Windows determine virtual memory settings.” If you have ever wondered why your hard drive is working overtime performing the simplest tasks, it is probably because Windows is swapping on your drive.

Not only does this take more time than it should, but it also badly fragments your drive since the swap area (which, according to Windows can be almost your entire drive) expands and contracts according to available hard drive space.

If the user could only tell Windows how much ram to use, and made that space static, then performance would improve, and the area designated for swap on the drive would be easier to maintain in terms of fragmentation.

Here is the good news. You can do this. Here is how:

The first thing you want to do is disable virtual memory so that you can defragment the drive thoroughly.

DISCLAIMER: In some rare instances, Windows may not restart without virtual memory. I have never seen a Windows machine NOT start as a result of disabling virtual memory, but your mileage may vary depending on how many programs you have in your startup group. Proceed at your own disk.

To do this:

Right click on the “My Computer” icon on your desktop.
Select “Properties.”
Click the “Performance” tab.
Choose “Disable virtual memory.”

You will get a warning message saying that some things will not work if you do this. Ignore the warning and continue. You will see a message informing you that the machine will need to be rebooted in order for the changes to take effect. Go ahead and reboot.

As the machine reboots keep hitting the F8 key. This will bring you to a boot up menu. Choose to boot up in “safe mode.” This will load the operating system without memory resident drivers and programs. The graphics will look ugly, since you will only have 16 colors in safe mode. Don’t panic.

Go to “Start” “Run” and type “scandisk” into the field. This will check the integrity of your hard drive and fix any errors it may find.

When scandisk has fixed all of the problems on the drive, run defrag. This may take a while depending on the size of your drive.

Go to “Start” “Run” and type “defrag” into the field.

After defrag is done:

Right click on the “My Computer” icon on your desktop.
Select “Properties.”
Click the “Performance” tab.
Choose “Let me specify my own virtual memory settings”

In most Windows operating systems you want to use about 2.5 X the amount of ram for a swap file. For example, if you have 128 megs of ram, the formula goes like this:

256 megs of ram
X 2.5
– – – – – – – – – – –
640 meg swap file

Put “640” in the “Minimum” AND “Maximum” fields. This will make your swap file static.

Reboot the machine. You should now experience faster navigation within Windows, and other programs. There will be a decrease of hard drive churning, and will decrease the amount of fragmentation on the drive.

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